Strange Events at Pebble Mill – blog by Peter Poole

Archers' Studio, circa 1971

photo by Philip Morgan

This event was told to me about Radio Studio 3. This was the drama studio made famous by ‘The Archers’. One morning when the studio door was unlocked it would not fully open. This was due to several chairs that had been pushed against the door from the inside. This door was the only entrance so it’s a mystery how this happened. This may be a tall story told to new BBC staff. I can’t remember who told me. Has anyone else heard this story? I found another story about this studio on this website http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=4602 .

This other event happened to me. It was the late 1970s and I was working alone one evening in the dubbing theatre. A little later Brian Telford came in with a tape recorded earlier in a village church. This was a recording of organ music for The Archers. The tape had a high frequency noise on it. Brian wanted to filter this noise using the dubbing theatre’s graphic equaliser. As we listened a very loud crash could be heard when the music had finished. But it sounded very strange, as if it was backwards. I played the tape backwards and the sound of a large door being slammed shut was heard. Brian said he was unaware of any such sound when the recording was made. I can’t remember what happened to the tape or if any investigations followed this event. The high frequency noise was probably due to RF induction. That is the microphone cable acting as an aerial and picking up a signal from a radio transmitter. If the church was near to the Droitwich transmitter  this could happen. Maybe Brian faked the tape and it was all a practical joke. If this was the case he did a great job. But I feel this was unlikely. I’m very sceptical about the paranormal but can’t explain how this backwards door slam was recorded. Anyone have any ideas?

Peter Poole
(It is Roger Slater being the spot operator, knocking on the door, in the background of the Archers’ Studio photo)

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3 Comments

  • That’s me as Spot operator knocking the door in the 1971 picture. We wore ties in those days…

  • Kathryn Shuttleworth

    There are many tales of spooky goings on at Pebble Mill. I too had a slightly unexplainable experience in Studio 3. Whilst staying late one evening to prep some SFX I was working in the cubicle and the lights on the studio floor were off. I heard the sound of the studio door open as if being picked up via one of the mics and coming out of the speakers. I assumed it was security doing their checks but when I looked at the desk there were no mics faded up. Strange I thought and carried on working. I was at the back of the cubicle and several times turned round suddenly as I could have sworn someone came in through the door at the back. At this point I thought this was all getting a bit weird but put it down to being tired and went home. The next day I mentioned this to a colleague who wasn’t surprised to hear my tale and told me more tales of mysterious moving props, rearranged furniture and similar bizarre goings on. A few months later another of my colleagues also had a weird experience of strange things happening with CD players and unexplained sounds coming from the speakers. Before we left Pebble Mill we did a piece for Halloween for Late Night Currie. The programme was broadcast from the Mailbox but we still had the ISDN facilities in Studio 5 at the Mill so we did a little OB from there. We had various psychics and ghost hunters in studio 3 at Pebble Mill trying to fathom out all these ghostly tales and see if there was anything there! After the TX the ghost hunting team said they’d love to do an all night ghost watch before the building was demolished. So we did! It was all very spooky and there were certainly some cold spots and unexplained feelings around Studio 3 and some of the basement areas. I do have a copy of the report but it is not conclusive as to paranormal activity. All I know is that there are certainly some good tales of spooky goings on and having experienced something bizarre myself I have to admit I’m not quite as sceptical about ghosts as I once was!

  • i vaguely remember the organ recording. I think it was recorded at Warmington, just outside Banbury. The organist was Norman Painting, who played Phil Archer, and also played the organ at Warmington church, the village where he lived.
    The tape was certainly not faked and I never did find an explanation for the noise.

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